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PE01693: Independent Water Ombudsman


Petitioner: Graeme Harvey on behalf of Lowland Canals Association


Date Lodged: 19 June 2018

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to establish an independent water ombudsmen to—

  • safeguard the interests of waterway users
  • review and arbitrate on disputes with Scottish Canals
  • ensure that navigation along the full length of the lowland canals is maintained for the benefit of future generations.


Petition History:


27 September 2018: The Committe took evidence from Graeme Harvey, Chairman and Christine Cameron, Lowland Canals Association and Ronald Edward Seton Rusack MBE, Chairman, Lowland Canals Volunteer Group. Angus MacDonald indicated that he is a member of the CrossParty Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism. The Committee agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Scottish Canals, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Scottish Waterways Trust, the Royal Yachting Association, the Canal & River Trust, the Inland Waterways Association and Audit Scotland. Link to Official Report 27 September 2018 

20 December 2018: The Committee agreed to invite Scottish Canals to give evidence at a future meeting. Link to Official Report 20 December 2018

Written Submissions:

We believe that an independent Water Ombudsman is necessary to safeguard the interests of waterway users and to be able to look at conflicts of interest in Scottish Canals' ativities. He should be able to ensure that navigation along the full length of the lowland canals is maintained for the benefit of future generations.

As a boater with a long term mooring on the Forth and Clyde Canal I trusted Scottish Canals to protect the fabric of the canal, and the have failed to do so. We need an independent voice to ensure the waterway is preserved for future generations . We need someone who cares to save the canal from falling into dereliction. If no action is taken then there will be no boats on the canal. Why pay exhorbitant mooring fees when there broken bridges in every direction. How on earth did Scottish Canals allow this to happen...

Martyn Sharpe

22:19 on 17 Jun 2018

The ombudsmen could ensure the best representation of the fragmented users of the canals to ensure the better management of them by Scottish canals particularly that the Forth & Clyde canal is re- opened to sea to sea navigation as required by statute and government grant conditions.

Kathy Gostick

23:42 on 16 Jun 2018

What epitomises the dysfunction of Scottish Canals could perhaps be summarised by:- At a meeting of Canal users about price increases for berthing charges, the public spent 2hr 15min telling anecdotal evidence about the (1), the poor service given, (2) the way in which money is wasted, (3) the poor way in which problems,identified by canal users, are dealt with, (4) the way in which canal users are treated by canal staff. I would argue that the users represented an even spread of socio economic adults. It is my understanding that this had happened at all the 3 canal meetings. I think there is a huge case for an independent, Water Ombudsman.

Ian Howker

11:00 on 16 Jun 2018

the caladonion canal has become very dangerious for the ocanioal boater due to the passenger higher boats doing up to 15knots in canal if this is aloud to carry on it will erroud banks and destroy canal as they have no other interest than to make as much money as possable

andrew double

21:16 on 14 Jun 2018

Stop the Quango !!!!!!!

Jim Sharp

13:07 on 14 Jun 2018

The Caledonian canal seem to operate a if your face fits system .certain people seem to get anything they want st the expense of other Canal users

David Edes

6:10 on 14 Jun 2018

Having been involved off and on in trying to ensure the canals were reopened to navigation and more made of what is potentially wonderful resouce for 42 years I am greatly concerned at the state that they have been allowed to fall into when they offer a tremendous opportunity both for leisure and business opportunities. Hopefully a waterways ombudsman would help the active waterways users, communities and business liaise with the new management in a far more positive way than previously

John Mackay

0:22 on 14 Jun 2018

As one who was instrumental in the re-opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal, 17 years later I find having a boat on same a complete farce when despite having the 'good fortune' to be moored at Auchinstarry, on the 'summit reach', and thus able to enjoy some cruising despite the enforced bridge closures, now I find I can no longer risk leaving my mooring because of the large volume of weed, and our recently 'upgraded' weed cutter cutter again being out of commission.

Bill Jarvie

23:18 on 13 Jun 2018

Scottish Canals seem to ignore their statutory obligation to maintain navigation along the lowland canals, preferring to squander their money on excessive salaries and perks for senior staff and investing in egocentric projects which do not benefit the canals. An independent ombudsman will provide a check on the activities of Scottish Canals and ensure that they carry out maintenance to guarantee that navigation will be maintained along the length of the canal. The current closure of a number of bridges on the Forth and Clyde Canal is a serious indictment of their misallocation of funds and their maintenance strategy.

John Neil Kitchener

21:30 on 12 Jun 2018

Absolutely agree in this day and age - long overdue.

Louise Terry

12:17 on 23 May 2018

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